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Flush set commissioned ring


#1

Ive been commissioned by a close friend to make a wedding ring for
his fiancee. It is to be in 18K yellow gold, and flush set with
rubies and diamonds. His fiance has also commissioned me to make his
ring as a surprise!

I was thinking of fabricating it from scratch using D wire, but I am
now considering purchasing a ring blank instead. Im perfectly happy
fabricating it, and do produce rings with invisible seems on a
regular basis. However, as it is to have stones set all the way
around, I thought perhaps having a cast blank with no seem would be
advantageous.

Do folks think it would be better for me to fabricate it from
scratch or purchase a D or court-shaped ring blank? Thanks in
advance.

Helen Hill
UK


#2

Helen, If you make the ring by hand, mark the seam so that you
don’tt set a stone on top of it. There is a possibility a crack could
appear. Other than that, a hand made piece is generally to be
prefered because the metal is tougher.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold


#3
fabricating it from scratch using D wire, but I am now considering
purchasing a ring blank instead. 

If by D wire you mean half round there’s something to consider. The
stones have depth and that needs to be accounted for. The closer the
stones are set to the edge the less depth of metal you have. Culets
poking out the bottom is a serious no-no. Not only uncomfy to wear
but the stones will be damaged if put on a steel mandrel
inadvertently.

Best bet is to buy a comfort fit seamless tubing band. They vary in
weight(depth) so measure your stone depths before you order. If the
catalog says 2.5mm(for ex) high remember that is at the center of the
cross section, its still going to be less near the edges.

Rubies in that size in that style of setting behave more brittley
than other situations. Personally I would avoid sharp carbide
burnishers, use a well polished and appropriately shaped softer steel
burnisher. On 18KY you might even be able to use brass. You might be
tempted to sharpen the tip for close get-in to the stone, but you
risk scratching the ruby. Play it safe and make a tip that while slim
enough to get in tight IS NOT sharp.

I would look for diamond cut rubies. Much easier to set, not as deep
as native cuts.

Anytime you can avoid a seam its better. If your joints look
invisible when fresh, they probably won’t look so in a few months.


#4
If you make the ring by hand, mark the seam so that you don'tt set
a stone on top of it. There is a possibility a crack could appear.
Other than that, a hand made piece is generally to be prefered
because the metal is tougher. 

Thanks for your advice Tom. I do feel, however, that a pre-made
blank without a seam would be better, as others have pointed out to
me, because a) the seam may cause setting difficulties, b) the seam
could pop whilst setting, c) the seam could show tarnish months down
the line, and d) I’ve not been able to find any 18K wire in the shape
I’m looking for, ie oval, to produce a court-shaped band.

I may have a go at making one after this job, but I don’t want to
risk making costly mistakes on a customer’s wedding ring.

Your advice is much appreciated though, and your reasoning was the
same as my reasoning for wanting to make it in the first place.

Helen
UK


#5

Hi Neil,

Sorry for the lateness of my reply. I’ve been struggling to keep up
with Orchid of late as I’m very busy with jewellery work - yay!

Thank you so much for all your valuable advice regarding my project.
I thought of the shallow edges of half round wire after I posted and
so decided on a court-shaped wedding ring blank. And yes, you’re
right about the seam possibly showing tarnish a few months down the
line - I hadn’t thought about that. I did want to make the ring, but
I think a cast ring blank will give my customer a much better
product and that’s what it’s all about, not my pride after all.

Thanks again Neil.

Helen
UK


#6
I think a cast ring blank will give my customer a much better
product and that's what it's all about, not my pride after all. 

You’ll give the best product if you use a machined seamless band,
not a casting. Castings sometimes show porosity and on something with
broad smooth areas they really show. If you want the practice of
carving a wax, this sort of thing is best done on a lathe type
configuration. You can mount the wax rod in a flexshaft that’s been
locked in a vice, not ideal but cheaper than buying a true lathe.

A casting would be generally softer than a milled blank so setting
might be easier for you, and maybe safer for your rubies. Its not a
big difference but a consideration. Also, if you carve the wax you
can control contour Re: culets poking out. By the time you paid for
casting services and shipping two ways you might be better off just
buying a milled blank as long as its thick enough to accommodate the
stones.

Stones that you set near edges will not be pointing straight down,
they’d be perpendicular to the surface at that point on the cross
section, and so don’t require quite as much metal depth. Make sure
you drill perpendicular to the surface at what ever point in the
contour you are. But the inside of the ring tapers to the edge so
you’ve got to look at your stones and where you want to put them. In
figuring what depth you need for a particular stone use the total
depth of the stone. Unless the stones are very large the tables will
wind up being approximately flush or slightly higher than the ring
surface. (Tip: after all drilling and reaming but before setting use
a small setting or bud bur to chamfer the hole inside the ring,
looks neater, more comfy too)

Confusing? Why not do a practice ring in sterling with CZs first so
you get the feel for the geometry involved.


#7

Hi Neil,

You'll give the best product if you use a machined seamless band,
not a casting. 

Sorry about that. I assumed they were cast, but I looked at all the
techy info about the product on my supplier’s website yesterday, and
they are indeed CNC milled blanks.

Stones that you set near edges will not be pointing straight down,
they'd be perpendicular to the surface at that point on the cross
section, and so don't require quite as much metal depth. 

I had considered that already (and the culets poking out being a no-
no), as I am very analytical with regard to any projects I’m about
to undertake - to my family’s annoyance sometimes - they can’t
understand why I get so hung up in the details. Looking at the
standard proportions of the brilliant cut, the overall stone height
is 59.3% of the stone’s girdle diameter, so I’ve planned to use
rubies whose diameters are no bigger than the depth of the ring
shank. That way, even if the rubies are a fair bit deeper cut than
the diamonds (which are really well cut), they should still be small
enough so as not to have culets poking out - just as long as I don’t
cut the seats too deep of course! I’m buying my rubies from my
jewellery supply company, so I would hope they’re not using native
cuts! Perhaps I’d better check first just to make sure. The diamonds
are coming from a diamond dealer as they are better than the ones my
normal supplier have to offer - and with plenty of choice, ie any
colour grade, any clarity, any size, etc, etc.

Confusing? Why not do a practice ring in sterling with CZs first
so you get the feel for the geometry involved. 

Confusing? Not at all. As I said, all these techy details I already
had sorted in my head. I was also planning to do the sterling/CZ
practice run first and am planning to purchase a few blue sapphires
to go with it.

The thing I’m unsure about now, is how to decide on the layout. Is
it best to do a profile scale drawing to work out where to put the
stones around the band? It’s to be randomly set, so I"m not sure of
the best approach. A scale drawing of the profile would be fine if
the stones were to be evenly set around the centre of the band, but
when they’re to be “scattered”, I’m not sure that will help. Any
advice on this would be gratefully received, thanks.

Helen
UK


#8
You'll give the best product if you use a machined seamless band,
not a casting. 

I think Helen means the ring wedding blanks supplied by cooksons and
others in the u.k. Dont worry, they are milled, not cast and can be
supplied in various depths for the stones.

Jon Horton


#9

Helen,

I’m doing one of those right now. I sat with the customer and drew
thumbnail after thumbnail. We settled on a pattern. I have a 10 mm
14K white gold comfort fit size 8 ring, a 17pt round, 2 10pts, 7-2mm
single cut VS an comfort fit size 8 ring, a 17pt round, 2 10pts,
7-2mm single cut VS and 7-2mm brilliant cut ‘junk’ diamonds. She
wanted them clustered at the top rather than spaced around. After I
had it clear in my head, I set the 3 bigger stones and then with a
Sharpie, drew out the pattern of 7 on one side of these…OH NO!
Measles! with gaps at the four corners of the center stone! Not good.
I took another marker and played with dots that measured roughly 2mm
until I got some suitable ideas before calling the customer with a
suggestion that we take a second look. Sometimes it all works out on
paper but it’s surprising what happens when you really get down to
it.

I have done many of these and it nearly always happens this way. You
think you have a brilliant design until you get the first few set. I
usually have to modify somewhere along the line from the original
design but it always works out fine. Once I have it all 'finally’
measured out past the first few ‘set’ stones, I drill tiny holes to
mark the placement of the rest so my marks don’t get lost. I use a
small sharp ball bur and don’t go too deep, this allows for the hole
to be shifted a little but still within the hole of the incoming
stone.

I wasn’t paying attention to this thread so don’t know if anyone
advised you about drilling all the way through the metal before
making your seat but I always do. I have had many rings in to be
worked on where the jeweler did not go all the way through and
cleaning these rings is a bear, made worse if one does not get all
the dirt out from under the stones before soldering. It will take
days to get that out!

J.


#10

Helen,

I forgot to add. Use Diamond Cut colored stones. This will make the
seat burs match the holes and eliminate guesswork. Also, when you
get to the edges of the ring, there’s nothing saying the drilled hole
would have to be ‘straight’ through. If drilled at an angle, it
would help facilitate setting the stone at the angle of the dome.

Always Learning,
J.


#11
I wasn't paying attention to this thread so don't know if anyone
advised you about drilling all the way through the metal before
making your seat but I always do. 

Yes, that was the plan. I do drill all the way through so that it
can be cleaned behind the stones.

Thanks for sharing your experiences J. This randomly-set, scattered
look is more difficult to lay out than having the stones evenly
spaced!

Helen
UK


#12
The thing I'm unsure about now, is how to decide on the layout. Is
it best to do a profile scale drawing to work out where to put the
stones around the band? It's to be randomly set, so I"m not sure
of the best approach. 

I won’t contend that this is the best approach, but the way I do a
"random" layout is this:

Using a circle divider template and dividers, I mark an evenly
spaced layout along the centerline. Then I move a few of the marks a
little bit one way or the other longitudinally along the centerline.
A little goes a long way here; half the diameter of the stone or less
on about a quarter to a third of the stones is all that’s needed.
Then I move most (if not all) off-center (towards the edges of the
band) to a far more varying degree. I try to avoid letting any
alternating or repetitive pattern develop. I also try to avoid having
any two stones that are visible at the same time the same distance
from the centerline on the same side of the centerline.

It’s the variation in distance from the centerline that really makes
for a pleasingly randomized effect, as opposed to variations in
longitudinal spacing along the centerline. Too much of that can make
it look sloppy or clumpy, imho.

Using an odd number of stones will further enhance the random
appearance, but with two different types of stones, there will be at
least two of the same type next to each other. Using stones of
slightly varied sizes also adds to the feeling of randomness
significantly. Some customers don’t want two of the same kind of
stone next to each other but I find that it adds to the random feel
of the piece even more, especially if their sizes are different.

Think of stepping stones in a brook while doing the layout. The
stepping distance from stone to stone should be roughly but not
exactly the same, and your direction can change significantly with
every step. Or not. Nature’s got this random stuff down. Borrow from
her whenever you can.

Contact me offline if you think a photo or two might be helpful.

Cheerio!
Dave Phelps


#13

Hi J,

Also, when you get to the edges of the ring, there's nothing saying
the drilled hole would have to be 'straight' through. If drilled at
an angle, it would help facilitate setting the stone at the angle
of the dome. 

That’s what I was planning, ie to drill perpendicular to the profile
of the curve. The only place I’d drill straight would be at the
centre of the shank. But thanks for the input anyway.

Helen
UK


#14

Helen,

If you can get a copy of Blaine Lewis’ dvd on setting colored stones,
do so. I think it will answer your questions. It is very concise and
easy to follow and full of great tips and techniques that Blaine has
developed. He does cover how to flush set stones and align them
without making it such a difficult procedure. I took an intensive
stone setting workshop with him and it was one of the best workshops
ever. I purchased the instruction video to help me with the things I
knew I would forget or didn’t quite get completely written down in my
notes. A nice bonus is it comes with a few tools as well as brass
rings and cz’s to practice his techniques on.

I do wish Blaine would write a book based on his classes and videos.
I find using a written text easier to use when sitting at the bench.
For awhile I had a little tv set up across from my bench while I
practiced. I eventually drew up my own list of instructions so I
would have an easy reference guide at my fingertips.

Victoria Woollen-Danner


#15

Dave,

You’re an absolute star!!! Thanks so much for helping me out with my
layout problems. I’ll definitely be following your advice - it makes
perfect sense, but I’d never have come up with that by myself.

Orchid rocks!

Helen
UK


#16

Dave,

You’re an absolute star!!! Thanks so much for helping me out with my
layout problems. I’ll definitely be following your advice - it makes
perfect sense, but I’d never have come up with that by myself.

Orchid rocks!

Helen
UK